Traffic lights blasted by judge

By Rob Kidd

A judge has slammed Dunedin City Council's traffic light set-up, which he described as ''an accident waiting to happen''. File photo
A judge has slammed Dunedin City Council's traffic light set-up, which he described as ''an accident waiting to happen''. File photo

A judge has slammed Dunedin City Council's traffic light set-up, which he described as ''an accident waiting to happen''.

The stinging assessment came when Koriana Fay Osborne's case was called before the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

The 22-year-old was turning right from Castle St into Hanover St and proceeded when the lights turned green.

Simultaneously, a female pedestrian also got a green light to cross.

Though the impact happened at low speed, the pedestrian sustained whiplash, delayed concussion, a fractured foot and ligament damage.

''The council carry a major responsibility for not looking at the way lights are set up,'' Judge Kevin Phillips said.

''The people who should really be here [in court] are the people who put the lights in place, did what they did and designed them.''

A Dunedin City Council spokesman said he needed more information about the case and the judge's specific observations before commenting.

Judge Phillips granted an application to discharge Osborne without conviction, which cleared her way for a career in law enforcement.

''She's taken a number of steps over several years to fulfil a lifelong goal to join the police,'' defence counsel Marie Taylor-Cyphers said.

A conviction would have meant her application to enter Police College would be denied, the court heard.

It was not only the concurrent green lights that contributed to the incident, Ms Taylor-Cyphers said.

Osborne was behind the wheel of a Ford Ranger, which she had been driving only for a couple of months.

The ''thick pillars'' between windscreen and side windows created a large blind spot, which had been the subject of online articles, provided to the court by the lawyer.

Judge Phillips accepted Osborne's ability to check her right side would have been severely affected by the vehicle's structure.

Also given to the judge was a Land Transport New Zealand report called ''Stops and Goes of Traffic Signals''.

Ms Taylor-Cyphers highlighted that 14% of all crashes at lights involved pedestrians.

''The report identifies the vulnerability of pedestrians in intersections where no or insufficient filtering is used, including the phasing of green signals to allow a delay for pedestrians,'' she said.

Judge Phillips said Osborne's carelessness was at a low level and she immediately attended to the victim.

The court also heard how the 22-year-old sent the woman flowers and a letter during her recovery, during which she was in plaster for three weeks and wore a moon boot for six.

Despite being off work for six weeks, the victim held no grudge against Osborne.

''It was an accident. I bear no malice towards the driver ... I wish her well in future endeavours,'' she wrote.

Judge Phillips said he hoped the incident was the catalyst for change.

''In my view there is an ongoing difficulty in relation to pedestrians on the streets of Dunedin, where green lights allowing vehicles to move forward are not governed by arrows in relation to right turning,'' he said.

''This was just an accident waiting to happen and something needs to be done about it.''

Osborne received no conviction for careless driving causing injury but she was banned from driving for six months.

- Otago Daily Times

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